"I wish I could have been there just two years later," ... or ... "Why couldn't my coaches have built our program up when I was here?"
But Stephanie Humphrey doesn't look at it like that at all. The senior pitcher on Ralph and Karen Weekly's Lady Vol softball team threw her last regular season pitch at Tyson Park in a Lady Vol jersey on Sunday.
She's never won a title.
She's never gotten a ring ... well, she has gotten one ring. She's engaged to be married.
But Humphrey is part - a soon-to-be graduating part - of a program the Weekly's are close to turning into a powerhouse, a machine, a team you can count on being in conference title contention every year.
The Lady Vols have 13 freshmen this season that make up one of the five best recruiting classes last year. And more talent comes in next year, including a pitcher that co-head coach Ralph Weekly calls "the top in the nation."
But Humphrey doesn't care. The former walk-on loves the position she's in.
"I think about it in another way," she said. "I think about it as I'm kind of a building block."
A building block for Tennessee softball. A building block for Knoxville softball.
Humphrey, a Halls High School graduate, will stay in Knoxville when she graduates to not only be a GA for the Weekly's next year, but she will also start pitching lessons in the summer for a Knoxville softball market that is not traditionally strong.
"I think the biggest thing that I'd like to do is build up softball in Knoxville," she said.
"There's not a lot of strong coaching and pitching coaches around here, and I know from playing tough teams around the conference and tough teams around the nation that I can bring that."
Her coach couldn't agree more. Weekly describes Humphrey as having more heart than any player he has ever coached.
In the Bulldogs' 12-3 win over Tennessee on Sunday, Humphrey started - and got the loss - in her final home game. But she was pulled after the first inning.
Weekly said for Humphrey to be effective she has to pitch 60 mph, and she was touching 57 at her best in the opening inning. So, he and Karen pulled her.
But that "heart" he was talking about wasn't hurt by it. With the dominant Georgia bats shelling the Lady Vol pitching staff, Weekly turned to his ace and said, "Can you keep this thing under 10 runs?"
"I'll try my best," she replied.
Humphrey pitched two innings of relief before Stacey Jennings finished out the game, but Georgia's juggernaut offense was too much for Humphrey.
It was not the way Weekly wanted to send her out.
"Today, I felt really bad for her," he said, adding he wished she could be on his team in a few years, when the Lady Vols start title-hunting.
In their second year as UT's softball coaches, the Weekly's did not get to coach Humphrey in her first two years.
But for someone who came to Tennessee with zero expectations and left with her name all over the Tennessee record book, Humphrey's proven some people wrong.
"I think a lot of people when I first came here didn't expect me to really do anything," she said. "A lot of people didn't even think I could make it."
Not that she should have been surprised by that. Most people don't expect much out of walk-ons. After all, they're just building blocks.
And that's just the way Humphrey wants it.
- Tim "Rocket" Vacek is sports editor of The Daily Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Humphrey helps build program she'll only see from the dugout
Published: Mon Apr 28, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:08 p.m.